Hockeytown is Back!

THIS IS A SAMPLE WRITING PIECE I SUBMITTED TO ‘The Hockey Writers’ IN HOPES OF LANDING A JOB! Now let’s get onto the good stuff.

December in Detroit is magical. Snow flurries falling from the sky, skating outdoors at Campus Martius, and the city’s beloved Red Wings are in the season full force. These past few winters, fans have grown tired of watching the losses pile up on the score sheet. This year seems different though. We are officially through a quarter through the season and the Red Wings are in the best standings position in 5 seasons.

What is causing the wings to play better this year and create the rumblings of excitement in Hockeytown again? There are of course many things that play into an overall season, but I broke down a few key factors that are contributing day in day out to help this hockey team succeed.

Steve Yzerman –

When Jim Devellano drafted Steve Yzerman 4th overall in 1983, no Red Wing fan knew who they were getting at number 4 overall. Yzerman spent his entire career with the Red Wings, pulling the team out of the dreaded Dead Wings era. Leading them to 3 Stanley Cups during his playing career before moving to the front office. After spending time building a Stanley Cup caliber team in Tampa Bay, the chosen one retuned home, giving the fans hope to believe in again- affectionately naming everything Stevie did, as part of the ‘Yzerplan.’

Fans are starting to reap dividends this season after a mere two drafts and off-season’s. Beginning with his draft classes, it is clear Yzerman wants to bring talented BIG guys to Detroit to man the blue line and quick players with great hands on offense. The entire NHL was surprised when Yzerman took Seider at 6th overall, including Moritz. Looking back, Yzerman knew that was his guy and knew Moritz would be a top player from the 2019 class. Mo is quickly becoming a staple on the Red Wings blueline, amassing 3 goals and 14 assists in 25 games.

Yzerman has also made a couple outstanding trades and made some good free agent signings. At the deadline last year, Yzerman traded an underperforming Anthony Mantha to the Capitals for a 2021 1st, 2022 2nd, Jakub Vrana and Richrd Panik. After seeing what Yzerman can do with his draft picks, the fans of Detroit were ecstatic when the trade news broke. Steve Yzerman also fleeced the Carolina Hurricanes for Goaltender Alex Nedelijkovic, giving up a second-round pick and the rights to goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Nedelijkovic is a considerable upgrade from previous year’s goaltending and is quickly become a fan favorite in Detroit.

This past offseason, Yzerman also signed a young center in Pius Suter after he and the Blackhawks parted ways. Pius has been better than advertised for the Wings, playing on the second line alongside Zadina and Fabbri.

Rookies –

Its no surprise to see rookies as a key reason for the Red Wings success this season. Throughout October and November, Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond have won the October and November Rookie of the Month, respectively.

If Moritz Seider continues this point pace he will end with 55 points on the season, giving him more points than both Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar in their rookie campaign’s. However, with Moritz Seider it is not always about the points. As a rookie Seider is averaging over 22 minutes of TOI per game- more than a third of the game, a lot of time for a rookie. Moritz also excels in 3 on 3 overtime play, using the extra ice and soft hands to create scoring chances for himself and teammates- already scoring two overtime goals, becoming the only rookie defenseman in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

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Coming into training camp, no one expected Lucas Raymond to make the roster. After working hard and putting up points, the coaching staff couldn’t keep him off the roster. All season Raymond has been playing on the top line- usually with Larkin and Bertuzzi. Playing alongside this talent has allowed Raymond to flourish this season, collecting 10 goals and 12 assists in 25 games.

Lucas and Moritz aren’t the only rookies flourishing for the Wings. After splitting Time with Griess for two months, Nedelijkovic appears to have granted the green light as Detroit’s number one option between the pipes on most nights.

Tyler Bertuzzi

Prior to sustaining a shoulder injury, Bertuzzi departed last season after only 9 games. Detroit fell into a skid that didn’t end until postseason. Coming off shoulder surgery many fans were suspicious of what to expect in Bertuzzi’s return to action. He has not disappointed this season, kicking it off with a 4-goal performance night one in an OT loss to the reigning Stanley Cup champs 7-6.

Having Bertuzzi in the lineup again has significantly helped Dylan Larkin’s production. Last season Larkin had 9 goals and 14 assists in 44 games. Now that Bertuzzi is playing alongside, Larkin already has 10 goals and 11 assists in 21 games. This production increase comes from good chemistry and having talented players on the same line.

Things to Worry About

Before fans get in over their head and expect playoffs or more from this team, let’s instead pump the brakes for a second. There are a few things still holding the wings back from taking it to the next level. Yes, the Wings have been significantly better than most predicted they would be. However, this does not mean their Stanley Cup Bound or even Playoff bound. If the Wings can clean up a few areas of their game, a playoff push is not out of play for this young squad. Let’s take a look at what to clean up.

Goal Production- Although we are scoring .6 more goals this season (2.2 -> 2.8) we still rank in the bottom 10 teams for goals per game.

Special Teams- over the past two/three weeks we have seen an uptick in our penalty kill percentage. However, in today’s league where Powerplay’s are essential, The Red Wings are 75.3% (26th) on the penalty kill and 14.9% (25th) This is an absolute killer for teams. When you get an advantage, it is necessary to create opportunities and put the puck in the net. However, only scoring at a 14.9% rate is abysmal and needs to get picked up if the Red Wings want to fight for playoffs.

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